Degree Programs Available from Vanderbilt Divinity School
Vanderbilt Divinity School appears in our ranking of the 30 Best Theological Seminaries in the United States.
Vanderbilt Divinity School offers professional degrees for students who haven’t studied theology before and advanced programs for those with more experience. One option is a Master of Divinity that includes 72 credits and takes three years to finish. The M.Div. program includes a field experience where students spend one or two semesters working for their churches or a religious organization. Students must do a final capstone too along with a senior project. This allows them to take a detailed look at an issue facing the church or an area of ministry and work on that subject with help from a faculty advisor.
The school’s Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program takes only two years to finish and includes 48 credits. All students take First Semester Orientation, which is a course that goes over what they need to do in their classes and how they can graduate. Students can choose between an MTS thesis or portfolio near the end of the program. This lets them create a thesis of up to 50 pages based on a specific subject. Those who choose the portfolio track need to present their work one month before they graduate. They need to include a statement of up to 1,250 words and samples of their graded work.
All of the degree programs available at the Vanderbilt Divinity School include concentrations for students too. The black religion and cultural studies concentration focuses on the history of black churches in the United States and how members developed their cultural traditions. In the chaplaincy concentration, students look at pastoral counseling and how pastors can help parishioners going through difficult times. Vanderbilt offers one of the only concentrations in prison ministry too, which prepares students for helping inmates in correctional institutions. Also available are concentrations in religion and the arts and religion, gender and sexuality.
The seminary now offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Religion too, which is available through the Graduate School of Religion. This program can help students secure a fellowship and get the funding needed to complete a doctoral degree in religion. Incoming students receive guidance from a mentor who will continue helping them through the program. They will choose from concentrations such as ethics and society or theological studies when they start. Other concentrations in the M.A. program include Jewish studies, religion, psychology and culture and Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel.
About Vanderbilt Divinity School
Vanderbilt Divinity School is a branch of Vanderbilt University that offers programs in religion and theology. Its official name is the Vanderbilt Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion. Established in 1875, it was originally known as the Biblical Department and worked closely with the Methodist Episcopal Church South. After Vanderbilt ended its relationship with that Church in 1914, it became the Biblical Department of Vanderbilt University and later the Vanderbilt School of Religion. The school is now a private interdenominational seminary that welcomes students from all branches of Christianity. Known as Vanderbilt Divinity School since 1856, it grew significantly in the 1960s after merging with the Graduate School of Theology at Oberlin College. This increased the resources and opportunities available for students from both schools. The students who attend the Divinity School today come from denominations that include the United Methodist Church and the African American Baptist Church.
Vanderbilt Divinity School Accreditation Details
All of the programs available from the Vanderbilt Divinity School have accreditation from the Commission on Accrediting of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. This also serves as the main accreditation for the seminary, which is why it can create admissions and program requirements as well as award degrees and certificates. Every student who graduated from the seminary in the 2017 class now works full-time in fields that include chaplaincy and ministry positions. Vanderbilt Divinity School also found that 87% of its MTS students completed the program in two years or less.
Vanderbilt Divinity School Application Requirements
Vanderbilt has a final application deadline of January 15 and requires that students apply and send in all supporting documents before this deadline. If the school has space available, it will continue accepting students through the middle of April and the beginning of March. Only those who apply by the middle of January will qualify for the school’s scholarships. Vanderbilt asks students to write several essays and add them to the application.
All prospective graduate students need a minimum grade point average of 2.9 and a bachelor’s degree. The school asks for transcripts from the colleges the student attended and requires that one shows that the student earned a bachelor’s degree. It also requires three letters of recommendation and asks that each one contain a filled-out version of the school’s reference form. Though the Divinity School doesn’t charge an application fee, it requires a resume that lists the student’s volunteer and professional experiences along with their community or church activities. It will select some students and require that they interview with a faculty member too.
Tuition and Financial Aid
The estimated cost of attendance at Vanderbilt Divinity School is $23,280 per term for full-time students. Graduate students pay $970 per credit hour in any degree program and take 12 credits during the regular terms and six credits in the summer semester. The seminary charges a $500 fee that covers the use of campus resources and activities. Students also pay $292 for health insurance coverage from Vanderbilt. Those who can show proof that they have health insurance do not need to pay this fee.
Vanderbilt offers funding for students who take a minimum of six credits every semester. Those who apply by the middle of January can get a scholarship that they can renew for up to three years in some programs. While full-time students can get a full scholarship, part-time students can only get a scholarship that covers up to half of their expenses. The Office of Student Financial Aid can help students see what programs they qualify for based on their merit. This might include a program that forgives their student loan debt if they agree to work in the public sector. Vanderbilt Divinity School also accepts veteran and military benefits and loans and other programs from students who submit the FAFSA when they apply to the school’s degree programs.